Venison Pot Roast

Venison Pot Roast: Marinating with a Twist

Your entire family is sure to love this venison pot roast marinade with a twist, try it tonight!

It was summer a few days ago.  We still have a pile of tomatoes on top of the freezer and boxes of pears ripening in the garage to prove it.  But yesterday it snowed. Last night it snowed. And today, it is still snowing.  (And I’ve gotten at least 5 texts, with pictures of–what else?–snow.)  It’s a good thing: our rifle season starts in 6 days and we needed the moisture, and we need to put venison in the freezer.

So, I’m heating up the oven.  It’s time for a succulent venison pot roast.  And while this is technically a brine, what is brining except marinating with more moisture.  (Like the woods and prairies, venison needs moisture, too, especially if you’re one of those folks who cooks steaks to a fare-thee-well to kill all the cooties.)  

I grew up on my  Grandmother ‘s whipped potatoes and beef  pot roast. The beef  was always tender, juicy and succulent.  But venison  pot roast is a whole other animal.  Really.  While beef on the hoof marbles its fat through the muscle/meat, wild animals store  their fat on top of their meat, just under the skin. And venison fat doesn’t taste nearly as good as beef fat, so we all ruthlessly trim it before it goes in the freezer.  Then we take the tough cuts and pot roast them, and wonder why, with all that liquid they are dry.  It’s the fat. At least partly, and if you don’t make up for the marbling wild game doesn’t have, you get dry pot roast.  What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?  Well, try this brined pot roast. More than a marinade even, it will inject lots of moisture into your wild game.  Yes, there’s bacon, but repeat after me: It’s the brine!

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Brined Traditional Venison Pot Roast

Serves 6-8

If you’d like a one-dish meal, add as many chopped potatoes and carrots as you’d like, and will fit in the pot.

The Brine

48-72 hours ahead

  • 1 ½ to 2 pound pot roast
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoons salt*
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried leaf thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried leaf winter savory
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Combine the water, salt, sugar, thyme, savory and onion powder in a gallon-sized re-sealable bag.  Seal and shake it, then add the roast. Make sure it’s completely immersed in the brine, then seal the bag and place it in a large bowl or on a cookie sheet, just in case it drips.  Refrigerate 2 to 3 days.

 

The Rest of the Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup beef broth

Cooking

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Arrange the oven rack so the Dutch oven will be in the center of the oven, vertically.  Remove the venison pot roast from the brine, and dry it with paper towels.  Set aside.  In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium to medium-high heat until it is browned, about 7-8 minutes.  With a slotted spoon transfer the bacon to a plate with paper towels to drain.  Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the grease.  (Save the extra, if any.)
  2. Brown the venison roast on all sides in the bacon grease, still with the pot on medium to medium-high heat.  When it’s nicely browned all over, about 2 minutes per side, remove it to a large plate. Add another tablespoon of bacon grease, if you have it, or oil if you don’t, lower the heat to medium and add the chopped onion, celery and carrots to the pot. Sauté  them in the bacon grease until they’re softened and lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. 
  3. Add the tomato paste, bacon chunks, chicken and beef broths to the veggies, and stir them well, scraping up the tasty bits at the bottom of the pot. 
  4. Return the venison roast to the pot, pouring the juices it left on the plate in, too.  The liquid should come halfway up the pot roast. If it doesn’t, add enough half chicken and half beef broth until it does.  Let the pot come to a low boil. As soon as it does, cover the pot with foil, then the lid, and transfer it to the oven.   (If your lid spits and sputters even a little bit, as even my enameled cast iron Dutch oven does when soups, stews and pot roasts get simmering, it will lose precious moisture during the cooking. To prevent that, lay a sheet of foil on the pot before putting the lid on.)
  5. Cook for about 3 hours, turning the venison roast every 45 minutes.  It won’t fall apart, but you should be able to easily poke it with a knife.  Serve hot with hot buttered rolls.

*Salt content varies by the brand of bacon. Yours could have more than mine.) Since you can always add salt at the table (and even 1 tablespoon in the brine is enough to tenderize the meat) it’s safest to use less salt in the brine and add it at the table, if necessary.

 

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